Gathering wild strawberry leaves for tea

07/05/2015 at 6:16 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Spring is an ideal time to gather fresh young wild strawberry leaves… but actually, any time of year is pretty good. This easy-going plant is in leaf all year around.

Fragaria viscera grows prolifically as ground cover in the Studio garden, on damp and partly shaded earth. It has even thrived in the gaps between paving stones. Many summers ago, my youngest used to sit naked, a Buddha baby, among the wild strawberry plants munching the tiny sweet crimson berries. I understood then that bliss is built into this little plant’s DNA.

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To make an infusion

Wild strawberry tea is a good alternative to green tea.

For one person: pick a small handful of green, healthy leaves. Wash if required. Chop roughly. Place in an infuser in a pot or mug of boiled water for three to five minutes. Remove infuser. Breathe in the fresh green aroma, and enjoy!

Alternatively, harvest larger quantities of the leaves and dry in a single layer on a tray in a warm, ventilated place. An airing cupboard or a dehydrator are both good. When crinkly-dry, store in an airtight jar in a cupboard away from light. The dried leaves are best drunk within one year. Use one teaspoon of dried strawberry leaf in an infuser per person.

I did read recently that strawberry leaves should be infused either fresh or completely dried, not in-between. Apparently there is some mild toxicity present in the in-between state.

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Health benefits

The leaves are rich in Vitamin C and also contain iron, calcium, and anti-oxidants. They are rich in tannins, giving them that ‘green tea’ dry taste in the mouth. They help to maintain a healthy digestive tract. They are traditionally used to treat chronic diarrhoea, and also joint pain. Interestingly, they also contain ellagic acid, which reputedly inhibits cancer tumours. Very rarely there may be an allergic reaction to strawberry leaves: in cases of swelling or rash, stop drinking and consult a doctor.

But for the vast majority of people, the wild strawberry is simply an easy-going and very helpful cottage garden plant, happy to grow almost anywhere, in return for some amazing culinary gifts.

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PS On Thursday 14th May there’ll be a herb morning at the Studio garden. Come and gather wild strawberry leaves and other spring herbs to make delicious, healthy infusions.

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